One day I found a Bible in my library

My parents owned a small bakery. When I was fourteen years old I started my apprenticeship and became a pastry cook. When I was a child I believed in an almighty God and for years I tried to find out more about Him. I went to church every Sunday, but I didn’t find many answers to my questions. Eventually I gave up and I started looking for fulfilment in all kinds of worldly things: soccer games, friends, girls, going out, driving a motorcycle, cars, etc.

When I was eighteen I met Johanna. We got married in 1962 and in the years that followed a son and a I was a bad father and husband. My kids hated me and our family life had become such a mess that it seemed like there was no hope left. The happiness and the joy had disappeared. Our home was controlled by anger and aggression.

I fled in horseback riding, falconry, fencing and playing tennis. The emptiness inside only got worse and my search for peace and total contentment got more and more intense.

Then one day I found a Bible in my library. I just opened it, at random, and read: ‘Love your enemies and pray for the ones that persecute you.’ In the years that followed these words, spoken by Jesus Christ, haunted me. My way of accomplishing things at work was contrary to this biblical statement. Still, I felt the presence of a loving God behind those words and I started to read the Bible. After reading it from beginning to end, I started burying myself in books about ‘enhancing positive thinking’. At first I was convinced that I had found the solution and that my life would be happy from now on. After a year, however, I concluded that positive thoughts were better than negative ones, but still didn’t fill my inner emptiness.

After this period, I started having an affair with a younger woman. I wanted to end it, but it seemed like I wasn’t able to do so. I used to cry at night because I felt so guilty. My wife suffered greatly. After a while she only weighed 41 kilos. She suffered from a very painful gastroenteritis; she was in a miserable state and had lost all hope. Our children loathed me. We hardly spoke. My frustrations and aggressiveness had gotten so severe that I started screaming in a store once. My wife thought I was losing my mind. My son became an alcoholic and smoked countless cigarettes. He considered committing suicide many times, and so did I. Once I took off my seatbelt and drove into a roadblock, at full speed. I know now that it was God who prevented the collision. Our material circumstances were just fine, but the rest of my life came crashing down.

I prayed to a God I didn’t know and asked Him to lead me in the right direction. I sought for Him in other religions, like Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, and I also gave reincarnation and psychology a try. At last I gave up and acknowledged that the problem was me.

That’s when God started to reveal Himself to our family. First to my wife, who had faithfully attended church all this time. She met people who told her that it was possible to get to know God personally. Three weeks later I joined her and the things I heard and experienced really got to me. An intense struggle followed. It took me two weeks to give up my lawless life and surrender completely to Jesus, the Son of God, and start a new life. When I did that, I found what I had been looking for all my life: my inner emptiness got filled. ‘Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God’ (John 1:12).

During the days that followed I discovered that my way of thinking had changed completely. The Bible seemed to have a new dimension and I was very enthusiastic about it. God healed my marriage and my family. My wife, my children and my daughter in law also gave their lives to Jesus Christ. My son has become a pastry chef, he has a happy marriage and he has been set free from alcohol and tobacco. And God also healed my wife from her disease.



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